Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
Perhaps you’d like to tuck in a book with those chocolates for a child, grandchild, or friend. Here are five grand choices with decidedly different personalities:
For a poignant valentine:
Love, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long
published in 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
An extraordinary collaboration, this is a meditation on love in all the disparate forms it takes in our raggedy, sun-drenched, fractured, kindness-strewn world. It will leave you with a lump in your throat.
This is not doily-and-sequins love. It’s deep, anchoring love. It’s sometimes-invisible-but-ever-there, love. Shelter-when-the-bottom-drops-out love. Showing-up-in-the-craziest places love. Matt de la Peña’s lyrical voice speaks with honesty and grace, while Loren Long fleshes out these ideas with incredible diversity, humanness, depth, and, well… love.
There apparently was a bit of a flap over this book because of one scene where a child is depicted cowering while his parents are clearly having a row. It’s a turning point in the narrative. The ground quivers under us. Comfort arrives, though, in the solid embrace of a caregiver. I mention this because I think parents and adults who read this book with young children will do well to be prepared for this significant, gritty aspect of it. Personally, I think it’s brilliant. But it is quite emotional and weighty, more so than you might anticipate in a picture book called “Love.”
This book is unusually stunning. It’s a beautiful choice for a wide age range and varied circumstances, from ages 4 right through to grandparents.
For a hot pink-confetti-and-glitter valentine:
Click, Clack, Moo: I Love You! written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
published in 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
The barnyard crew is at it again in this wildly celebratory episode.
Little Duck is flinging valentine hoopla everywhere. Paint. Glitter, Streamers. Balloons. There’s a party at the barn tonight and everyone is coming to dance and munch on yummy snacks! Even one uninvited guest! Yikes!
Blistering with vivacity, and cheer, plus glitter on the pages to crank the festivities up even a little higher! A treat for ages 2 and up.
For a playful, sunny valentine:
100 Things I Love to Do With You, written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz
published in 2017 by Abrams Appleseed
There really are 100 things in this kaleidoscopically-colorful catalog. Because you are just so fun to do everything with!
Beach comb. Stay at home.
Blow bubbles. Make trouble.
You name it, it’s more fun with you! Bottled up sunshine, right here. For ages 2 and up.
For a sweet-kiss-from-mama valentine:
I Love You Always, written by Astrid Desbordes, illustrated by Pauline Martin, translated from the French by Noelia Hobeika
English edition published in 2016 by Little Gestalten
A mom recounts all the days and ways she loves her son in this sweet story with its European vibe.
In pairs of seeming opposites, Mama assures Max that she loves him “when you can see it and even when you don’t” or “when you listen to me and when it’s my turn to listen to you.” It’s the always-ness of love on tap here. Such a reassuring part of a child’s life. A quiet, thoughtful choice for ages 3 and up.
For an I’m-allergic-to-kisses valentine:
I Love You Like a Pig, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
published in 2017 by Balzer & Bray
Then there are the kids who say “Eww, yuck!” and hastily wipe off any kisses that land on them! Or the brash ones who love their siblings by giggling wildly before whumping them with a pillow. Their hearts beat with fierce love, but they don’t want any sappiness about it, thank you very much.
This book is for them. It’s bold. It’s a bit ridiculous. It’s full of love as big as a pig and as happy as a pie cooling in an open window. Straight-up joy with a dash of silly for ages 2 and up.
Find more books especially fitting for Valentine’s Day in my archives by clicking here.